Review: Jack Harlon & The Dead Crows ‘Hail To The Underground’

I’ve been fortunate enough to catch Jack Harlon & The Dead Crows on a few occasions when they venture into my territory from their homeland of Mexico (that’s Melbourne to non-Australians). They put on a helluva show too, tight but loose, intense and wild with copious amounts of feedback to colour their psyche-stoner blues. Indeed, on my first encounter with ‘em, I purchased a copy of Hymns from the merch desk straight after the set ended. Yeah, I dug ‘em from the get go!

Jack Harlon & The Dead Crows 'Hail To The Underground'

These amigos have now recorded a bunch of covers for the new album Hail To The Underground, and have selected some cool tunes too.

Kicking off with the absolute stone-cold classic My Pal by fellow Mexicans, recorded by the teenaged God back in ’87 (I still have my 7” copy!), this killer ditty has minimal lyrics, but they are caustic, tragic and the perfect tale of teenage lonesomeness. Throw in the ripping playing and a sweet guitar motif that you may never forget, and you have yourself a killer klassic! Jack Harlon & The Dead Crows throw a slightly lysergic bent into their version, drenched it in some FX and pumped out an admirable retelling.

The Melvins have been a fave band of mine since I first heard ‘em in ’92. Copache from ’93s Houdini is another slick choice. That fucking powerhouse riff must be a blast to play. The dudes hit it nicely too, catching the crazed vibe and that guitar tone well.

My Bloody Valentine were a band I’ don’t think I’d ever even heard before listening to Hail To The Underground. I knew the name, but that was about it. A shame too, ‘cause based on this song (I checked out the original whilst researching), they’re smack fucking bang in my wheelhouse. Jack Harlon et al give the tune a tad more balls, but I can live with that. They hit the fuzz hard, and plough through it like a band possessed.

Ever heard the Butthole Surfers Live PCPPEP? FYI, it’s fucking great, with the band at their craziest. That said I hadn’t heard Dust Devil before (despite being a fan of Butthole Surfers) but transcribing a tune written and recorded when everyone involved woulda had more than enough illegal narcotics in their respective systems to kill a rhino musta been hard. There’s a tonne of raunch to this cover version with the mangled guitar tearing up the place and capturing the rabid mayhem of the song. Those weird-arsed lyrics are howled in anguish. Fun times, and just what the doctor ordered in this day and time! And later tonight the aforementioned Live PCPPEP is gonna hit the turntable and the neighbours are gonna have a listen too!

Throw in the ripping playing and a sweet guitar motif that you may never forget, and you have yourself a killer klassic…

I admit I stopped listening to Joy Division for a lot of years (despite being a huge fan as a 15yo) as other bands took hold of me. But hearing Day Of Lords took me right back to my bedroom at my parents house. Kinda lacking the deadpan delivery and manic tinge that Ian Curtis brought to the table, but it’s a good take on it regardless. Brooding guitars, churning out slow riffs and a lumbering, desolate vibes fill the void. Probs gonna be playing the neighbours some Joy Division tonight now too. Maybe they’ll dig a close inspection of Closer at 2am…

A cover of Roll & Tumble by bluesman Hambone Willie Newbern belies the roots of Jack Harlon’s rock ‘n’ roll style. They do a gritty version of a classic tune, with all the trimmings. Driving, roaring blues warms my heart to its core and I love this version of a song that’s been played, reworked ,covered and bastardised for decades.

Bauhaus’ Dark Entries is just one of those kinda songs. That buzz tone guitar and the echoing vocals of Mr Harlan pair well. The song is pure post-punk/early goth in style, and another track on Hail To The Underground that they must have had a blast recording. The rolling beat and smoking attack are fully realised, the guitar playing is perfect, the bass and drums don’t miss a…. um…. beat. Dense sounds and some cool energy are the key elements to this version and it comes off well too.

I wasn’t familiar a tall with Amon Düül II but can see how they fit in with Jack Harlon & And The Dead Crows. Spacey and experimental with a meandering feel, Eye Shaking King is a slick examination of the song. Waves of sounds as they wind through the riffs, and take things up and down and hit the climax. Some epic drumming as well, and a slick track to wrap up the show!

I’d love to see to the band play this album in its’ entirety live one day, as it’s a great collection of cool songs and all played really well with enough of their own flavour mixed in but keeping the tunes faithful to the original versions at the same time. So, fucken dig it!

Label: Blues Funeral Recordings
Band Links: Facebook | Bandcamp | Instagram

Scribed by: El Jefe